Saturday, 7 July 2018


The Hon Tony Abbott MP, 3 July 2018

2018 Bob Carter Commemorative Lecture — Australian Environment Foundation, 3 July 2018

It takes character to do what’s right and it takes courage to disagree with your peers. On this score, Bob Carter was a good and brave man whose memory we should honour and whose example we should strive to emulate.

As Professor Carter found, and later his James Cook University colleague Peter Ridd also, this is an age that enthusiastically promotes social diversity but often demands intellectual conformity.

Both never let the desire for status impede the search for truth.

As Bob told MPs in 2015, “science does not operate by consensus….it is often best progressed by mavericks”. And as he pointed out in his book, Climate: The Counter Consensus, sometimes, we need to “trust authority less and our own brains more”.

….So….what could be a more fitting occasion for scepticism about green religion and its policy ramifications than an address in Professor Carter’s honour?

In Roman times, grapes were grown in northern England. In the middle ages, crops were grown in Greenland. And in the 17th century, ice fairs were held in London on the frozen River Thames.

So climate change is real alright. For me, the issue has always been: what role does man play, is carbon dioxide the key climate factor, and what might best be done to deal with it?

In government, I thought that we should be prepared to pay up to a billion dollars a year to cut emissions, through the taxpayer-funded emissions reduction fund.

I never thought that we should have to pay the $10 billion or so that Labor collected through the carbon tax. That’s why my government abolished it and in so doing delivered an immediate cut in electricity bills of 10 per cent.

My government set a 2030 emissions reduction target on the basis that this was more-or-less what could be achieved without new government programmes and without new costs on the economy.

There was no advice then to the effect that it would take a Clean Energy Target or a National Energy Guarantee to get there.

Our intention, then, was to monitor developments; and, in the meantime, to rely on market forces to make energy use efficient, and on the emissions reduction fund to keep overall emissions heading down at the lowest possible cost.

My government never put emissions reduction ahead of the wellbeing of families and the prosperity of industries. As I’ve said all along, you don’t improve the environment by damaging the economy.

Full Lecture

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